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I would like to use my 64GB USB-drive to install Linux on another computer that has no CD drive. I already have some data on the drive (I already have a backup, but split across multiple locations and I have no other 64GB free at the time for another backup).

I used unetbootin earlier, but would I lose the data if I convert the USB drive into an installer with that?

How could I just add the files needed on the stick so I can install Ubuntu from it?

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First you should backup the data on the device. This will part of any suggestion anyone makes. –  Ramhound Mar 15 '13 at 11:34
    
Why the downvote? Sure, I would backup my data if I had important data on the stick. But that was not my question. –  rubo77 Mar 18 '13 at 9:58
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AFAIK unetbootin does create an installer (because it just copies files off the live CD and writes a boot sector) and furthermore doesn't wipe out the data –  ncdownpat Mar 18 '13 at 11:17

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Unetbootin does not simply write the ISO images to the target drive, which would overwrite existing data. Rather, it extracts the contents from the image, copies them and writes its own boot sector afterwards. A quick test run confirms that Unetbootin keeps existing files in place.

However, while the software may not blindly remove everything when creating a bootable drive, it isn't cautious about the contents either. This si not unique to Unetbootin. Altering boot sectors is a dangerous operation in which data may be lost anyway, especially from removable drives, which can often be disorganised at this level.

It can be done and the software you've used earlier is very suitable, but the risk of data loss is inevitable. Make backups.

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